Interview with Damon Anseti: Part 3

Must-Haves for High Adventure

          Anybody who has spent time in the Kingdoms sector of Ada-Kar has probably wandered into the Pirate’s Gold pub for a drink or five. A pleasant and entertaining place, the Pirate’s Gold is always lively. The pub’s owner, Damon Anseti, can often be found pouring drinks, carousing with the patrons, and spinning yarns about his adventuring days. I asked him to sit with me and discuss a few of his favorite subjects.

                For this most recent interview I asked him to detail what equipment to bring adventuring.

 

Valhalla Crier: Damon, you’ve told me before that a poorly equipped adventurer is bound to fail. What are the survival essentials?

Damon:   Knowledge and common sense.

Valhalla Crier: Well, it seems like that goes without saying.

Damon:   Oh, no! Not at all! The world is filled with corpses of yahoos who didn’t know what they were doing. You hear it all the time, people running off in the desert with too much ammo and not enough water. A lot of people think that the worst that can happen to them is getting a sword in the guts.   Let’s see how they feel after a week with no water!

Valhalla Crier: So you’re saying that what you know is more important than what you carry?

Damon:   Yeah, definitely!   It does tie into your equipment, but that comes later. I mean, there are things that you will need, and some things are better than others, but the first step is thinking it through and making sure you are getting the right stuff.

               And this includes hiring a guide, or a few porters, or what-not. Finding somebody who knows the land is going to do a lot more for you than spending thousands of v-bills to buy fancy gadgets and magic spells. Hell, even hiring a consultant to help equip you could mean the difference between life and death.

Valhalla Crier: I understand that the Adventurer’s Guild has classes on that type of thing.

Damon:   Yeah, sure, take a class, whatever makes your dew-box shine. Just don’t go into it thinking you know everything. You think you’ve seen it all? There’s no way you’ve seen everything that lurks out there.

Valhalla Crier: Well, that makes sense. If you are going somewhere in particular you might need to pack certain things that you might not need elsewhere. But, what about in general? What key things are you going to need on any adventure?

Damon:   I see your angle, Euclid. You just want the basics.

Valhalla Crier: Yes, please.

Damon: All right, but just know that you’ve got to use your knowledge to sup this list. Every part of this is going to vary depending on where you are going, who you are, what you are, what you expect to meet out there, and any other possible factor. Clear?

Valhalla Crier: Clear.

Damon:   All right then. They say that the three things you need to survive are food, water and shelter. While that’s basically true, you will also need weapons and armor. Now, everything that you take with you needs to address one of these needs, preferably two or more. If it doesn’t, its dead weight.

               Do you like to read a book before going to bed at night? Not out in the wild! Unless it’s a book about wilderness survival or some such, you don’t need it!

Valhalla Crier: Okay, then, so we have food, water, shelter, armor and weapons. Which is the most important?

Damon:   Food and water. Water is more important than food, but for the sake of this interview I think we can lump them together.

                You’ve got to figure out a way to keep well-nourished when you’re out there. Unfortunately all that crap is heavy, so if you are going to be out for any length of time, you need to figure out alternatives. If you are lucky you can forage for stuff along the way. This is one way that a guide can help you. They know what you can eat and what you can’t. They can tell you where to find water, so you don’t have to carry that heavy-assed shit.

                If you’re lucky enough to have transportation then you can stow extra food and water. I highly recommend pack animals. Not only will they carry your crap, but if you get in a jam, you can always eat them. Donkey burger tastes mighty fine!

                Always have a back-up plan, though. For that, magic is really the thing! Of course if you’re in a higher-tech area it may fizzle, but it’s worth bringing along just in case. Yandalli’s table-cloth is a wonderful thing! Perhaps the best out there! But you can also use Nyisha’s Mystic Embroidery. It’s real ripe to lug around a fifty gallon cask of water that weighs almost nothing! If that isn’t in your price range then a scroll for locating water or something similar works okay too.  

Valhalla Crier: Sounds good. So what’s next?

Damon:   Well, that might depend on where you are. Here again, nuance inside of nuance. If you are going to the Greco-Roman Alliance, then weapons and armor are going to be more important than shelter. If you’re going to Czarist Russia, then you better damn well take your thermal undies and your seal-skin boots.

Valhalla Crier: Thermal undies and seal-skin boots? Those sound more like clothes than shelter.

Damon:   When I’m talking shelter, I mean anything that can help keep you warm and dry. That includes anything from clothing, to tents, to fires. Anything that will keep the elements away.

Valhalla Crier: So what are some of the better items to put on your list?

Damon:   A nice wool cloak is always handy. Often you can find one that is at least water resistant. Even if it does get wet, it keeps insulating. It’s not pleasant being wrapped up in a soggy rag, but at least it won’t be sucking away your body heat!

                A good sized plastic tarp is probably even better. Eight by eight should do it. You can use that to wrap up your stuff when you’re hiking or hang up over you when you’re in camp. It is a lot lighter than a tent, but serves pretty much the same function. It might not keep the bugs out, but that’s not the end of the world. Just make sure to get your malaria shots before you go!

                So far as fire goes, a regular old disposable lighter is probably the best thing to keep. It’s cheap, easy to use, lightweight, and it’s pretty low-tech. You might have troubles starting it in some TL One, hell-hole, but even there it should eventually work. Some other even lower tech item could be useful. Flint and steel will work anywhere so long as you know how to do it. And if you can’t you probably shouldn’t be out there anyway!

Valhalla Crier: What about magic items? I understand that a lot of people have magic items for this kind of stuff.

Damon:   Oh yeah, there’s lots of good magic out there. Most should be used sparingly because they run out just when you’re getting comfortable. The best bargains are probably Ariell’s Fire, or Arnak’s Campfire. Arnak’s campfire has saved my ass multiple times. Ariell’s fire is nice when you are low on fuel. You can find them at Big Bob’s Adventure Emporium.

                Then, you know, I have also heard of some other really cool ideas. I met this guy who built a log cabin that was totally stocked with a wood burning stove, canned goods, and everything else you could want. He had Nyisha’s Permanent Embroidery cast on it and took it with him wherever he went. Cost an arm and a leg, I’m sure, but he took care of food, water, and shelter in one swoop. Hell, he probably had some extra weapons and ammo in there too.

Valhalla Crier: Wow, yeah, that does sound like some serious planning.

Damon:   Yeah, just hope the tech-zones don’t mess with it. That’s a lot of money to be leaving in the middle of nowhere. It could happen pretty easily too.

Valhalla Crier: Okay. So, we have weapons and armor left. What armor would you suggest to people?

Damon:   Yeah, that’s a tough one. The armor is probably the most complicated. You want something that will protect you but doesn’t weigh a ton. Full plate mail is awesome and will stop pretty much anything, but who wants to wear that crap? Slows you way down, makes it next to impossible to see or move. It costs a fortune to boot. No thanks!

                And then you can go to the other extreme, you know? Wear light clothing that doesn’t protect you at all. Keeps you nimble, but couldn’t even stop a butter knife.

Valhalla Crier: Ultimately it is going to be up to the person wearing it, right? What they are comfortable in, how they’ve been trained, and so on.

Damon:   Yeah, all of that plays into it. Even so, there are a few items to keep an eye out for. My favorite bit of armor is Kevlar. I love the stuff! I would have Kevlar undies made if they didn’t cramp my style. It is lightweight compared to a breastplate and can stop a bullet dead. Not even plate mail will do that! It also does a damn fine job of stopping other weapons. Hell, it will even absorb plasma energy. It melts the Kevlar, though. God, it stinks!

               My second recommendation is a wool cloak. As I mentioned, it is great to keep you warm. It also can be thick enough to deflect a glancing blow. It’s not going to stop a bullet, but it might stop that knife. Even a little protection is better than none, and since it is really helping you on the shelter front, it is a good item to have.

Valhalla Crier: So what about other armor?

Damon:   Well, a good helmet is absolutely necessary! Anybody that goes into battle without a helmet is a fool! Plain and simple! I always push for the Kevlar, of course, but pretty much anything will do. Hell, a bicycle helmet is better than nothing!

Valhalla Crier: What about shields?

Damon:   Yeah, they can be really great, but they are heavy. I never got into them myself, but some people I know swear by them. They do a great job of deflecting damage, but I think that the coolest thing about them is their usefulness as a weapon. That is a great example of multi-functional equipment. Defensive armor and a weapon tied together. A gauntlet works the same way. It’s a pretty good way to work the angles if you’ve got the skills.

Valhalla Crier: I guess that just leaves us with weapons.

Damon:   Yeah, that’s everyone’s favorite!

Valhalla Crier: So what weapons are key to surviving in Valhalla?

Damon:   First of all, stick with what you know. A katana is a fabulous weapon in the right hands, but it’s going to take you years to learn how to use it right. In the meantime you’re more likely to cut yourself than kill your enemy. Stick with what you know and keep practicing.

                Secondly, diversify!

Valhalla Crier: Tell me more.

Damon:   It has more to do with the tech level of your weapons than what type of weapon you are using. Firearms are without a doubt the best weapons out there, but you have so many different ones to choose from.

               You could use an Arquebus really well in a low-tech area, but the fact that you can only squeeze off a round every minute or so really limits its effectiveness. On the other hand, if you have a heavy plasma pistol you can blow a huge hole in anything you want. Good luck hitting anything with it if you go to Xa’cor dy Yelpheet. The Tech-Zones will mess with you like mad! You will be lucky if the damn thing doesn’t blow up in your hand!

                Similarly, you always want to make sure that you have a back-up weapon. Something distance and something up-close is the best. A rifle and a knife is a good combination. Or, if you prefer working close up, a sword and a bow. If you throw a mad shot-put then maybe you want to use that, I don’t know. Use a sling for all I care. You could even combine both your ranged and melee weapons by using a spear, or even better, slap a bayonet on the end of your rifle. There are numerous combinations. Just be sure to use ones that you excel in, and then look to fill the gaps.

Valhalla Crier: Anything else?

Damon:   Yeah, bring lots of healing magic or some of those Healing Nano-bots. Everyone should have something to stop bleeding. Other healing methods are good in a pinch, but magic or tech is the fastest and most versatile. I can’t speak highly enough of Photosynthetic Skin. Whatever fits your budget, but do yourself a favor and make sure you have something on hand.

Valhalla Crier: Thanks a lot for your time! It has been most enlightening. Any other final words of wisdom for those who want to survive an adventure in Valhalla?

Damon: Well, if your primary concern is survival, then don’t go adventuring. Don’t get into this business thinking you will grow old. Only a lucky few ever actually retire. You might be able to survive a few outings into the world, but eventually the reaper’s going to come for you. Make your fortune and get out.

Menagerie Exhibit Brings Interest and Ire

                When the Ada-Kar Menagerie and Aquarium announced that its newest exhibit would include a manticore, the excitement was outweighed only by the outrage. Now that three months have passed, there has been little common ground to find between the two divergent factions. Indeed, the opinions of experts as well as the layman are as diverse as the people of Valhalla.

                On one hand, the opponents of the exhibit cite numerous reasons why housing a manticore is a bad idea. Perhaps the most outspoken of these objectors is Kira Meadows of PEToC (People for the Ethical Treatment of Creatures). “Of course, our primary objection is the same as it is for any caged wild creature. These beings should be loose in their natural habitats, not jailed for our entertainment,” Kira explains. “The normal range of a manticore covers nearly seven hundred hectares. Now these creatures are confined to only three. Manticore are known to be particularly hostile when they are cornered. So what is the wisdom of keeping them in cramped conditions where they are sure to lash out at the least provocation?”

                Maxine Headrow of the Ada-Kar Menagerie and Aquarium begs to differ. “The reason these creatures have such wide hunting ranges is that they are large creatures living in sparse areas. They have to continually hunt for food in order to maintain their body weight. This forces the creatures to roam far and wide for sustenance. Such will not be the case at the Menagerie. They will be well-fed, well-tended, and well-secured. They will have one of the most advanced enclosures ever made. When the exhibit opens next month the world will be gifted with the sight of one of the most rare and exotic creatures alive.”

                The exhibit itself is situated in the “deserts” area of the Menagerie. Though the enclosure only takes up less than two hectares, there is a cave complex along the western wall that extends the living area to well over three hectares. With 90% of this area viewable by portholes and remote cameras, there is little doubt that the Manticore can feel privacy while still being observable by the public.

                But the welfare of the creatures is not Kira Meadows’ only concern. She also indicates the danger of having such creatures in a major population center. “These wild beings have complex problem solving skills. They are alpha-predators. They don’t earn that title by being stupid. Studies have shown that they are able to solve complex mazes and puzzles with impressive speed and accuracy. They learn and adapt quickly. Any creature that can do that can learn to escape a cage.”

               As proof she cites the incident last year at the Khrushchev Zoo in Narodnaya Strana. A mastodon broke loose of its enclosure, trampling and goring ten people before it was put down.   “And that is not the only incident like this,” she continues. “Something similar could easily happen here. Is it really worth exposing our children to such a possibility?”

                “The walls are made of poured concrete,” Maxine Headrow retorts. “The glass is five inches thick and made of Polycrominite Glass . . . the same stuff Megalopolis used on the space station. Manticore may have sharp claws and wicked teeth. They may even be able to shoot their tail spikes over a hundred feet, or inject enough neurotoxin to kill two elephants, but they cannot shred, bite, pierce, or poison their way through Polycrominite Glass!”

                Despite the protests, the plans are moving forward. Two manticore have already been selected and plans for moving them into the enclosure are under way. The female, Tiamat, will be a permanent resident at the menagerie, while the male, Abzu, is on loan from the personal menagerie of King Nur-Adad of Babylon. Abzu will remain in Ada-Kar for two years. It is hoped that during this time Tiamat will conceive an offspring.

                The exhibit is scheduled to be completed in less than three months. As the time nears, there is little doubt that the conflict will continue. A candlelight vigil held outside the gates of the menagerie every Saturday night has been steadily growing over the last few weeks. The vigils have started drawing counter-protestors as well. It is reported that harsh words were exchanged between the two groups last Saturday, and that police will be on scene this weekend to deter escalation.